On a trip to Worcester, the Audi Q3 finds the middle road between coupe and SUV.
It’s no secret that most men dread the minivan. The mere thump of that big sliding door makes us cringe, as if it were the sound of swift castration. No matter how many horses it packs or how many flat screens beam from the back of its headrests, the family-friendly car can be a serious buzzkill. So we trade buzzkill for overkill with tank-like SUVs that rarely touch the off-roads for which they were designed. Thankfully, Audi has found a middle road with the 2015 Q3: practical enough for your family, but cool enough to ward off anyone tempted to hang a baby on board sign in the back window.
The 2015 Q3 is being marketed as a coupe turned SUV, a crossover similar to the BMW X series and the Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class. Sure, the Q3’s 200 horses can charge through all the deep, muddy puddles and gravel-strewn back roads seen in commercials, but it was through the city and onto the highway where I found this vehicle performing like its sleek older cousin, the A4 Quattro.
We were traveling back in time, headed to my alma mater of Holy Cross, in the snake pit of Worcester. Back in those days, my roommate and I made beer runs in a beat-up old SUV that shimmied like a salsa dancer when it hit 55. Oh, how things have changed. The Q3 waltzed down the Mass Pike, 3,494 pounds of smooth German engineering that turns potholes into goose bumps.
Test-drive enough of these luxury cars and gauging performance becomes as tedious a task as comparing crème brûlée with chocolate mousse. They’re all pretty smooth. Only when the road conditions change can you tell how truly sweet a car is, as happened with the Q3 when apocalyptic rain began to pummel the Mass Pike. It was the kind of rain that turns the windshield to Vaseline, forcing me to silence the radio. But the Q3’s automatic windshield wipers picked up the pace, its xenon headlights cut through the gloom, and its electronic stability control made the storm raging outside seem more an adventure than a threat.
Pulling into the alumni parking lot, I prayed that my senior-year history professor would be there to catch me rolling up in style. The old crow gave me a D on the last paper of my college career, and the wound still hasn’t healed. Instead, a gaggle of freshmen looked up briefly from their cell phones, sized up the Q3, then looked back down without much more than a smirk. They’ll learn, I thought: Cool comes in all shapes and sizes.